Worn with pride

The T-shirt given to run­ners each year has be­come an im­por­tant part of the Great Race story

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - The Next Page -

Only a hand­ful of peo­ple will win the var­i­ous di­vi­sions and cat­e­gories in next Sun­day’s Richard S. Caligu­iri City of Pitts­burgh Great Race. But all run­ners will re­ceive a dis­tinc­tive race T-shirt, giv­ing them a share in the brag­ging rights.

“The T-shirt be­comes their tro­phy. It be­comes their prize, and they wear it with great pride,” said Mike Radley, the for­mer Ci­ti­parks di­rec­tor and long­time race di­rec­tor. “It sym­bol­izes a great ac­com­plish­ment.”

The Great Race marks its 40th an­niver­sary this year, and the Tshirt an­nu­ally given to run­ners has be­come a rich part of the event’s story. Some run­ners keep them as sou­venirs of per­sonal best records or as me­men­tos of races run with fam­ily or friends.

For oth­ers, the shirts are a link to the run­ning and fit­ness com­mu­ni­ties. While the aver­age Pitts­burgher never has the op­por­tu­nity to catch a pass from the Steelers’ Ben Roeth­lis­berger or take the ice with the Pen­guins’ Sid­ney Crosby, Mr. Radley said, race par­tic­i­pants of all abil­i­ties can share the course with elite run­ners and feel like partof the team.

In 1977, the shirts went only to those who fin­ished the race. After that, they were given to all run­ners. A quilt fea­tur­ing all of the shirts goes on dis­play at the High­mark Blue Cross Blue Shield Great Race Expo each year.

Re­al­iz­ing the T-shirts’ value as a mar­ket­ing tool, race or­ga­niz­ers over the years have dressed lo­cal celebri­ties in them for posters and ads pro­mot­ing the race. Among oth­ers, the ads have fea­tured KDKA per­son­al­ity Brenda Wa­ters; Scott Schu­bert, now the city po­lice chief; and mem­bers of the fam­ily of the late Mayor Richard S. Caligu­iri.

Mr. Caligu­iri, mayor from 1977 un­til his death from amy­loi­do­sis in 1988, es­tab­lished the race as a city “fun run.” In his mem­ory, a por­tion of each year’s regis­tra­tion pro­ceeds is do­nated to the Richard S. Caligu­iri Amy­loi­do­sis Fund for med­i­cal re­search.

This year, as many as 16,500 peo­ple are ex­pected to take part, 11,000 in the 10K run and 5,500 in the 5K run and fit­ness walk.

The shirts have be­come a con­ver­sa­tion piece, with some run­ners try­ing to fig­ure out in ad­vance what the year’s color will be, Mr. Radley said. The de­sign — the “art of run­ning,” he said — also is im­por­tant.

Many of the shirts have fea­tured fa­mil­iar Pitts­burgh im­ages, in­clud­ing the city sky­line and bridges. Some de­signs were the hand­i­work of Ci­ti­parks artists, while oth­ers were pro­duced by out­side de­sign­ers.

This year’s shirt was de­signed by Bur­ton Mor­ris, a Pitts­burgh na­tive and Carnegie Mel­lon Univer­sity grad­u­ate known for art de­pict­ing popular cul­ture, such as Heinz ketchup and chil­dren’s break­fast ce­re­als.

Mr. Mor­ris’ de­sign jux­ta­poses the steel mills of the city’s past with the gleam­ing of­fice build­ings dom­i­nat­ing to­day’s sky­line. His com­po­si­tion bridges the gen­er­a­tions, much like the race it­self.

On­line regis­tra­tion re­mains open through Tues­day at 11:59 p.m. In-per­son regis­tra­tion is avail­able Fri­day and Satur­day at the expo at the David L. Lawrence Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. — Joe Smydo,

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